USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans Head Coach Mike Munchak visited with reporters today at the scouting combine.
On selecting a guard in first round.
"I think what's changed is the defensive ends changing in stature. You've got guys that are 255 pounds that can rush
the quarterback the way they can now. They're great athletes. Back when I played in the '80s, maybe even earlier, the ends were bigger guys and you had more tackles available that can probably matchup. I think it became a matchup problem for the left tackles. They're hard to find. It's hard to find guys that are 255 pounds and can rush. So the supply and demand is lessened, and I think the demand for tackles became more valuable, especially a left tackle. For that reason, you have guards, there are more of them and you push that back a little bit. But if you have someone that is special, someone that is really good, that kind of gets thrown out the window. So you have to decide where you want to pick a guy like that."
Warmack and Cooper worthy?
"I haven't met them yet. Hopefully, we'll spend some time with them the next couple of days. On film, there's no doubt. Warmack, I've watched him in the SEC and seen a lot of him play. He's one of those guys that no doubt is getting a lot of attention as a guy that is special at what he does and has been very good and successful. He knows how to win, so there's a lot of things he brings to the party. If you decide you need a guard, that's the kind of guy you're gonna think about taking anywhere in the draft."
Tennessee guys at Combine.
"We're just getting started with it all. As far as the guys from UT, being in Nashville, that's something that down here is kind of the first process for me, getting with the other positions and looking at the guys from UT."
On Luke Joeckel.
"He's very, very good at what he does. I wasn't sure if he would come out or not. I spoke to him a little bit yesterday and got a chance to meet him. He's gonna be a very, very good football player. He's a guy that's gonna be able to come right in to the NFL and play immediately. You watch him on tape and you watch him on TV, and he's a special guy. I know he went against a lot of good defensive ends in college and you see he is up to the challenge, with Jake Matthews being the right tackle. I think those guys helped each other similar to how Bruce and I did all those years of watching each other and competing. I think they're very competitive and I think it's helped both of their developments. It's exciting to see both of them come out at the same time. But again, I think Luke is gonna be a very special player."
Interior of line.
"We need some help on the interior of the line. We need to take a look at free agency, which we will here in the next month, and the draft. Again, it's a good year for offensive linemen and I always think it's a good year for offensive linemen. I think there are more name guys that people know from top to bottom - maybe that's why I think it's more - but you can develop a lot of offensive linemen in that fifth, sixth and seventh rounds also. So you really have to do your homework more there, because there are a lot of good ways to build your roster. You don't only have to use first and second-round picks at that position to get it done, but sometimes it's a good idea to have those types of guys. You want guys that you say hoepfully he's gonna be our guard or center for the next 10 years. And I think that's what you look at in a draft like this with someone like us looking for offensive linemen. But all options are on the table as far as how we're gonna fix the offensive line."
On Jonathan Cooper.
"I haven't watched much film of him yet either. Again, that's where you have to spend more time with him, if there's not a lot of film to watch and especially if guys have gotten hurt and there's less film. Again, that creates it so you can maybe get them at a later round where it makes more sense to make a decision on some of those types of players."
Evaluating the Titans roster.
"We obviously need to improve. We were 6-10. We have to tweak the roster like you do every year. There's always gonna be changes, but the changes this year will be a little bit more toward improving different spots and creating more competition as you always want to do. We've got some work ahead of us. We've got to get some of our own free agents signed, and then the process begins. This is part of it. The draft is not until late April, so we'll have when free agency starts, a chance to get some veteran type guys that fit our roster. Even in free agency, you're not gonna just go get the top guys. There are some guys that fit nice needs that we have at different positions where we some veteran leadership possibly to mix with our young guys, or maybe where we're a little old, we'll get younger, which we'll do in the draft. That's something again where the offseason is where we'll have to make decisions as a staff with Ruston Webster and our scouting department to make a difference in our season."
Active in free agency early?
"I would think that we definitely would be. Again the hard part is you do a lot of homework right now and a lot of guys re-sign with their teams in the last 48 hours or they get franchised, which will happen a few days before that. So but I think there are people we are identifying that we're interested in that can help us. The hard part is we could want them real bad, but five other teams may want them also. So we'll see what happens. That's the challenge of this phase of the deal of building your roster through free agency."
Howie Long's son Kyle being a former DT.
"It's really attractive when it's worked for him. He's a special story. There's a lot to that story. I'll get a chance to meet him. I think we interview him tomorrow. I'm excited about doing that, watching him on tape and watching him at the Senior Bowl. Obviously he's done very well for himself. He's put himself in this position very quickly, which means he is a special athlete that you can do things like that. I'm sure he's gonna get a lot of attention, because a lot of teams like us are trying to figure out exactly where he's at in his development as an offensive lineman. I'm sure he'll be worked out quite often in the next six to eight weeks. But definitely he's someone that catches your eye and has done a nice job for himself, and it's a good thing to see."
Hiring Gregg Williams and knowing him personally?
"That was part of the equation, yes. There were a lot of things that had to be right for us to make a decision like that. Like you mentioned, as far as us knowing him and me working with him and knowing what kind of coach he is and what kind of person he is with Jerry Gray, our defensive coordinator, who has worked with him also. The first step was that - did it even make sense that way. Would it work business-wise. I know what a good coach I think he is. I worked with him and I've worked against him. I think he's a great mind as far as defense. I think he's good with how to use personnel and I thought he would work very with our staff as far as improving our defensive staff. So the rest was more of looking at other things and talking to our owner and making sure of what we felt in dealing with all that. I felt that he deserved a second chance. The league felt he deserved a second chance. Again, I felt he took responsibility for the things that happened and the things he was involved in. And I don't see anything like that every happening again."
On Williams fitting with staff.
"I think that's why Jerry was so excited when we talked about it. I think some coaches and some coordinators are stubborn. They want to do it their own way. They don't want help. They don't want to be told there are better ways to do things. I think Jerry is open to becoming a better coach, and that's refreshing to have coaches like that. He wants to learn and to find ways to get better, and to have another resource in the building that he's comfortable with and that we felt would work well. Gregg has been here for two or three weeks already and they've been in meetings every day, and they're a great fit. They're getting along well. They communicate well with the whole staff. Gregg is gonna be a big part of him and Jerry working together. I think Jerry is gonna be a better coordinator because of it and we assume we're gonna be a much better defense because of it."
On spending time at Combine.
"I think just how you use your time, where I spend my time while I'm here. Once this thing gets going over the next couple of days, there's a lot of places you can be. So I think it's that, the interviews. Maybe there are certain things I want to find out about different positions. I've got a great feel for the offensive side of the ball, especially the offensive linemen, so there are some questions that I wish maybe I had asked other years I was here while spending time with players. Things like that. When you're here for a week, you're only gonna get so much information out of this thing. A lot of it is more talking with other coaches. For me as a head coach, talking to the other coaches about different things you did at OTAs, different things you did during the season. It's a great resource for a lot of that because others have similar problems or similar questions and it's a good chance to get a little camaraderie with other coaches in general, and come up with some ideas that maybe will help us that hurt us last year."
Keeping a fullback.
"I think we'll have a fullback on the team. I think last year, Quinn (Johnson) may have played 12 snaps a game. There's a place for it with either the fullback or the tight end playing that position. We had a lot of success in past years, the year we went to the Super Bowl, it was a part, not a big part, but a part of it. I think we'll have a fullback on the roster."
Chris Johnson with a fullback.
"I think there are certain types of runs where he's much better against certain defenses with having no one in front of him. I think we've learned over the years what he does well with a fullback and what he doesn't. I thought we did a good job of that even last year with cleaning up some of that and making sure we're putting him in his best spot. I've talked to Chris about it. I don't think Chris has a feel either way. I think he's comfortable with both. You talk about throwing the fullback part out, but there are too many plays he likes that you need a fullback. And that gives a little identity to you, a little physicalness. You're playing the Texans and it gets a little downhill, or Jacksonville and you want to have some physical guys on your roster. I was a part of the run-and-shoot years, where we didn't have those physical guys other than the offensive line. I think that fullback does, even though he may play 8 to 15 plays a game, bring a physicality to the game."
On a complementary back to Johnson.
"I think we definitely look in that area. Chris Johnson has been so special and people don't see that has hasn't missed a game and hasn't missed a snap. His first playoff game was the only time he has had to come out of a game. He doesn't miss practice. The mission is two-fold: Don't overuse him, but don't cut down on his touches, but maybe throw to him more out of the backfield and find different ways to use him to get him out in space, along with running back that we feel comfortable with, like when (Javon) Ringer was healthy or with LenDale, that can take over the game in another way. That's what we're in need of, and that's what we'll be looking for."
Jags being a zone blocking team.
"I always saw them that way with that running back they had that was pretty special. I think he runs the zone pretty well. They just may not have called it as much. People look at that differently. A lot of the man stuff that Jacksonville used to do was pulling guards and pulling tackles, it was more just all that than true zone blocking where there were not any man principles. I thought the backs ran that well. They'll just get an opportunity to do it better. I always thought their running game was as good as anybody's downhill."
"The only difference is if you're going the other way and you have big linemen and you're asking them to pull. Then all of a sudden, that's a lot harder for guards if they're pulling on the powers and doing things like that if they've never done that. That's a feel thing. That's probably a harder direction to go as far as guards and tackles if you're asking them to pull more, and you've never done it versus the zone stuff, which is just getting reps. I don't think it's a hard transition other than the fact again that you have to be careful with what you're trying to accomplish on the back side."
Titans wide receivers.
"We don't feel there is a big need there. We feel we have players in place if everyone is healthy to have a good group of receivers. As far as us making changes in that group, that's always possible to create some more competition or depth or some more veteran help with some leadership at that position. That would be helpful. You're always looking for those reasons. We're not looking like maybe we are for offensive line or defensive backs, but I think you're always aware and if there is an opportunity to improve that position, we will."
Cook, Bironas and Marks as free agents.
"He's a big priority. He and Sen'Derrick and Rob. Those are three guys that we've been talking to. We can't control when they're ready to talk to us or when they want to work a deal. Most players when they get this close to free agency want to test the market. That's why we fought for it. I was a part of two strikes to get free agency available for these guys. So a lot of times guys want to wait it out and see. It doesn't mean they don't want to be here, and it doesn't mean we don't want them. It means they want to see if there is something better out there than what we have here. Cook is definitely someone that we feel very strongly about. We feel he's a big part of us having success next year is having him in the offense and using him in different ways like I talked about before with the changes we made on the offensive side of the ball, we feel can give him an opportunity to catch more balls and be more productive and maybe have him be more efficient with the plays he's in there without overworking him either at that position."
"He's probably not a natural running back. But with that speed, we can do a lot of things with him. He definitely has return ability. We saw that last year with him returning three kicks. We think he can still get a lot better at that, which he will the more he does it. The good thing he did was he didn't put the ball on the ground at all. He did a great job there, and he did what we asked him to do at running back. He's not a guy you're gonna count on on third down to block and do those kinds of things, so it's gonna be pretty obvious what he's doing when he's in there, that we're either gonna try to get him out in passing situations. I think he's more comfortable as a receiver necessarily than he is as a running back, but he's more of a utility guy if we needed him. If guys got hurt it was good to know we had him there to help us finish a game."
"I had never met Coach Croom. We brought him in when he was officially allowed to look around at Jacksonville. We had been talking to three or four running backs coaches at the time, and within an hour, I knew that this guy would be a great fit for us. I just think he commands (respect) when he comes in and sits down. He's very knowledgeable of the game. He's been a head coach, so I knew he can help me, just in general. He's another guy who's been through that. He's been a coordinator, he's coached the running back position. He's brought different knowledge and perspective to the position than most running backs coaches I've been around do. He understands how it all works, the offensive line, the passing game, the quarterbacks. So I saw him as an asset in a lot of ways, not just teaching the running backs. He's coached a lot of good running backs, and Chris is another good one. He was excited about Chris. He had some good ideas on what he thought he could help him with. I think from the people I talked with that he worked with before, they said real similar things to what I was thinking and I thought he would be a great fit for our situation in Nashville with the Titans and someone like CJ. He will hold him accountable on every snap. Yeah, that run was good, but you need to come back with another good run and I think the way he drills them and teaches them was something that really was exciting for me. He'll just be good for the whole staff."
On who calls plays.
"Right now Jerry Gray will call the plays. We'll get to that as far as what role Gregg will have on game day. All those things will come later as we get into OTAs and have the players in the building. So I just think we're gonna have a great resource. Gregg is gonna get involved in all that. Gregg is gonna get involved in what we do on Sundays and the matter of how we do it will be determined as we go."
Will Williams have any say in personnel?
"Sure. Definitely. He has a voice just like the rest of the defensive staff does. Again, that's what they're doing now, and trying to figure out now. Guys are still back in Nashville now looking at our personnel and our scheme and seeing what we need to change. Seeing what we were good at what we weren't so good at and maybe how we didn't use some of these players as well as we could, and what packages we can come up with with the guys we do have, and it helps us to determine our needs and identify the needs we do have as a defense with the type of players we want. If it's a veteran player, he'll help us recruit guys that he's been around the league with and in the draft, he'll be a part of this process, just like all the other coaches. It won't be any different that way."
On Andrew Luck.
"Unfortunately he's in our division. We knew last year when he got drafted, we all thought he would be very special. You just don't know how quickly success is gonna come. Obviously he handled it very well. The whole team did. The team rallied around him also. For the first year, with a coaching change also, I thought they obviously had a great year. He's very calm in the pocket just like we thought he would. He keeps his eyes down the field. He moves very well and he can hurt you with his legs. People don't talk about that much, but he does do those things. He's gonna be a great player in our division and in this league for a long time. He took hits and he's already been touted for how many comebacks he had in the fourth quarter where he doesn't let the things that happened to him, some bad throws. He threw some bad interceptions throughout the year and he took some hits, but it didn't faze him in the fourth quarter. The receivers made plays for him. They rallied around him and the team believed in him, and for a young quarterback those are things you love to have and you're seeing it in him."
Learning about how guys handle situations.
"I've got to watch him on tape and see some good things, but it's more of how did he play the game when he had some bad plays, whatever the position may be, if it's a quarterback or maybe an offensive lineman when things don't go your way, how do you respond the rest of the game, is what I like to see on film and I like to hear him verbalize how he handles frustration and how he handles success. I think those things are important hearing them verbalized as well as what you see on tape, and you're hoping that the two of them kind of are the same."
On talking to players at combine.
"It's helpful. To me the best part of it is having 15 or 20 minutes of time to spend with these players. Every team wants to see them. But you can pick up some things, body language, personality, their passion for the game when they talk. Film is obviously the body of work that's gonna be the biggest decision-maker. The biggest tool is film as far as that. That's gonna b the biggest tool as far as how he played on tape. But talking to him and hearing his knowledge, but rather than hearing a coach say what he knows, put him on the board and see what he really does know or watch film with him and ask him what he was thinking here. The more you can do those kinds of things as we go through this process, we get to do a little bit of that here and then we get a chance to go visit them or bring them in to our place. And those are things you need to find out, so you're not shocked when a guy comes in and doesn't have great knowledge or doesn't retain things very well. He's wasn't exposed to those different things. You don't really like his personality. Whatever it may be, those are things you can pick up on throughout this process."